NGO objects to MSC certification of Indian Ocean tuna fishery


Sean Murphy, SeafoodSource online editor

Published on
May 11, 2015

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is objecting to the application by a tuna fishery in the Indian Ocean for sustainability certification by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

WWF is objecting to the Echebastar Indian Ocean purse-seine tuna fishery, but stressed that the concern was more with the MSC’s certifying assessor, Food Certification International, moving too fast in its assessment, not taking into account rapid changes in the fishery. The area in question is near the Somali coast, where until recently pirates had kept fishing vessels away. Now, with the fishing fleet returning, WWF argued there hasn’t been enough time to assess the status of tuna stocks in the region.

“We feel that the premature certification of this fishery without adequately applying the requirements set out by MSC will result in a negative consequence for the management and conservation of tuna in the Indian Ocean,” said Wetjens Dimmlich, WWF’s Indian Ocean tuna program manager.

The fishery is looking to certify skipjack, yellowfin and bigeye tuna caught in the area using purse seine nets. WWF said it had nothing against the Echebastar fishery itself, merely the way the MSC is pursuing certification.

“WWF emphasizes that our concern is not with the client, Echebastar – and recognized their efforts to improve tuna governance through IOTC – but with the misapplication of the MSC standards and requirements,” WWF wrote. “WWF does support all tuna fisheries pursuit of MSC certification, including Echebastar, and are pleased to work with fisheries wishing to improve to meet the MSC standard.”

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